A small short-duration clinical study, published in the journal Hepatology, has reported that people on low-carbohydrate diets burn more of fat stored in the liver over glycogen for energy. The 2-week study designed to understand diet and its effect on glucose production and utilization in the liver, had 14 obese and overweight individuals follow a low-carbohydrate or low-calorie diet and 7 lean subjects on a regular diet as control.
The researchers observed effects of both the diets on various biological processes involved in glucose production and utilization. The observations indicated that in the low-carbohydrate diet, majority of glucose production was from lactic acid and amino acids. Also, individuals used only 20% of glycogen from the liver glycogen stores and instead, used fat stored in liver for energy. The stored fat utilization was also more throughout the entire body. Whereas, individuals on a low-calorie diet derived 40% of glucose for energy from food and liver glycogen.
Weight loss was seen in the obese and overweight individuals after 2 weeks. On an average, low-carbohydrate diet yielded 9.5 pounds of weight loss in comparison to 5 pounds from low-calorie diet.
Glucose and Fat are both metabolized in the liver to produce energy. Researchers from the study are of the opinion that this understanding of how glucose is made in liver may help in better regulation of metabolic disorders such as diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver.